← Previous Post: | Next Post:


Almost Nothing, West Virginia…

… Blue Ridge mountains, Shenandoah River…

West Virginia University is gradually reducing itself to nothing – no foreign languages, a lot fewer professors, no grad program in math, fewer undergrad programs.

Shit, place ain’t got no money, and customers are voting with their feet.

Lotsa boohoo about all this from the liberal elites, but hold on jest a minute! Hang on jest one sec! UD ain’t crying, and she’ll tell you why.


As you know, UD sees no reason why a country (Hungary) or a state (New Mexico, Nevada, West Virginia, Florida) that wants to reduce itself to an intellectual desert should be kept from doing so.

The American system is already correcting for this. Notice, for instance, how Hampshire College has stepped up to offer an easy transfer to New College students who can’t take it anymore. Nevada has always done beautifully on the dumbshit tourist trade and doesn’t need fancy theories to run casinos. Its wretched state university system should call it a day; smart young Nevadans can go to California. Same deal for other pro-ignorance states – this is a big country with oodles of good (and some supremely great) universities.

As for West Virginia. Feast your eyes on UD‘s coverage, over many years, of WVU – a hopelessly drunk and disorderly party school in a hopeless state from which those who can flee are fleeing. Morgantown runs with squalid bars in which frat boys try to kill pledges via drink. The kids riot after purty near every football game. The football and basketball coaches continue to be paid like princes. It’s a world, to be sure; a party school world which is about what a state like WV can manage if you tell it to establish a university. But you’re never gonna get the yahoos in the legislature to smarten the place up, and fact is most of its students are fine with the way things are. Those who aren’t will find good schools in driving distance: FIVE states border WV, and three of them have good schools.

Margaret Soltan, August 21, 2023 3:28PM
Posted in: the university

Trackback URL for this post:

18 Responses to “Almost Nothing, West Virginia…”

  1. Total Says:

    Love the simple hand wave on how easy it MUST be for people to get out. Surely they would! Thanks, Marie A. Your head will look pleasant in the basket.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Total: Very easy for most of the young people to get out; and people of all ages are somehow figuring out how to leave WV – the state’s experiencing a big population loss. Biggest in the nation. I think you ought to give those people more credit.

    You must not be an American. We’re good at getting out from dust bowls, tornado alleys, etc., etc., whether we only have a few cents or not. Hell, our great grandparents got all the way across the ocean with almost nothing to their names. You should read up.

    Perhaps your model is, as you mention, Marie A., who, if she hadn’t been married to an idiot (see the flight to Varennes) might have indeed gotten out and kept her head. But that’s the French (or Austrians); we’re talking about Americans.

  3. Dmitry Says:

    Can a young person from one state just move to another and attend university? I know a family in Colorado that has a son who was admitted to one of the University of California colleges. They are of reasonable means but could not afford the fees which they said are much higher for non California residents.

    In previous articles you mentioned that talented women students would leave restrictive states for more open ones. Has that happened?

  4. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Dmitry: In-state fees for residents can indeed be much less expensive; but fees at public colleges for out of state applicants are often nonetheless not too high. Some students move to the state where they’d like to go to school and wait/apply for residency. Details here.

    But yes – anyone can simply move to any state to attend university. For that matter, nothing’s stopping an American from attending college in Canada. I had more than one friend who went to McGill.

    Your last comment I think refers to women being less likely to attend schools in states that have very restrictive abortion laws. I think it’s too soon to know whether this is happening. I think it will happen.

  5. Dmitry Says:

    I had not heard of this “Common Market.” A very intriguing concept.

    My question was not whether a student would be /allowed/ to move to a new state for university (say to California from Nevada) but whether it would be practical, especially without other support. My friends in Colorado tallied the costs of tuition, residence, and such at the University of California over $50K per year and assuredly higher every year after that given trends.

    A quick search turned up this which matches their experience:

  6. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Dmitry: San Diego’s fee is very high. Most good public universities, while not cheap, are a good deal less.


  7. TAFKAU Says:

    At what point does it make sense to leave the state to attend colllege? It’s an interesting question, at least with regard to public universities. Obviously, if you’re a West Virginian who wants to study French literature, you’re better off decamping to one of the adjoining states. (Also, *three* out of five? Virginia, Ohio, and…? Pitt, Penn State, and Maryland are all good institutions, but I don’t know that one stands out over the other two. I’m assuming Kentucky is entirely out of the picture.) Still, in terms of opportunity costs, I’m not sure it makes sense to leave the state for one’s undergraduate degree (again, we’re talking about public schools here; of course, it is worth leaving Morgantown to go to Harvard). Aside from a fairly small number of true public Ivies (Berkeley, ULCA, Michigan, UVA, Texas), most employers probably don’t prioritize graduates from one state flagship over another, even if we’re talking about THEEE Ohio State University versus, say, LSU. And if you’re good (or privileged) enough, you can probably jump to the next level for grad school or law school. Or, to use the example mentioned by Dmitry, UCSD is a far more distinguished school than CU, but I doubt the difference between the two, at least in terms of additional doors opened, would justify the expense or disruption of moving to California.

  8. Margaret Soltan Says:

    TAFKAU: Yes, Kentucky is right out. I didn’t know that Ohio State has a good ranking (I checked), so I’ll go ahead and add that to the neighboring states.

    The WV case is interesting because there are SOOOO many reasons to leave the state beyond the quality of your college education. There are plenty of states with mediocre to awful schools that nonetheless have reasonably good economies, a spot of culture, natural attractions, actual cities… WV has natural attractions, but that’s pretty much it. So the incentives are all over the board if you’re a kid in WV: You should almost certainly leave the state to go to college, seems to me, even if you simply want to live in a place that doesn’t have the nation’s highest opioid overdose-related death rate.

  9. charlie Says:

    Admins knew, for well over a decade, the imbecilic teenager market segment, easily seduced by a laid, loaded, and drunk business model, was dwindling. But it was not possible to alter the nature of how business was done by outfits such as WVU. Way too much money was being made by Wall Street bond palaces financing the massive building boom at all unis, including the ones that party, as well as private equity, which bought that debt, and raked much of the taxpayer subsidized student debt service. It was one hell of a scam, which existed because places such as WVU never asked much of anything from their students, but got them to believe that a degree from a renowned party school meant much of anything.

    WEEEEELLL, it’s all coming apart. Teenagers, dumb or not, are finally recoiling at ridiculous tuition. Interest rate increases have made the cost of debt far greater, and some are actually doing research and finding elevated rates of student loan defaults. All that’s resulting in falling admissions.


    What to do? You’d think a university would do what it could to maintain its status as a…..university. But, you’re in the weeds if you think a university is anything but a student loan mill. If that no longer is possible, close up shop, or, at least as much as is needed, to assure debt service gets paid. It’s Reckoning Time….

  10. Margaret Soltan Says:

    charlie: I think WVU should do the following: Close down the school and reopen as a vocational school with Div I sports and frats/sororities. The school should have a small lib arts component made up of the following required courses: Eng. comp, business math, West Virginia history, basic civics. Otherwise courses will be geared toward vehicle mechanics, nursing, teaching, business fundamentals, criminology and other practical pursuits.

  11. charlie Says:

    You know, UD, if I could do it over again, I’d become a machinist/tool and die maker. A journeyman in either field has to know a good deal about applied math, metallurgy, basic concepts of electricity and magnetism, heat transfer, on and on. Frankly, it’s doubtful that most college grads know much about any of that. Who’s the better educated? Also, several of the trade associations have programs to recruit women into those jobs. And nothing stops a working adult from attending college at night and weekends to study any of the liberal arts. But, that’s assuming unis attempt to facilitate working adults who’d not need, or want, a student loan.

    Your recommendation of what WVU should become is sort of a community college model. They have a trade element to their catalog, so it’s not out of the question..

  12. Dmitry Says:

    @Margaret Soltan: I looked closely at your link regarding college options and residency. Long quote below and the last sentence is telling – a drastic move indeed. Don’t states with good public colleges come with a high cost of living? Could a West Virginia teenager move east to Maryland and eke out a life until s/he becomes eligible for lower pricing?

    Your other link to ratings is puzzling. The University of California is well regarded to be sure but that reputation is built on postgraduate excellence in research and not the undergraduate curriculum. The sheer number of UCal schools in the Top 10 public uni subcategory makes me suspicious.

    “3. Move to the state of your college to become a resident
    Moving to another state takes a lot of planning since to be eligible as a in-state student requires the student to live in the state for at least one year. Unfortunately, being in the state of your desired school as a college student does not count. You and/or your family needs to live at least one year in that state to be approved. It requires you and/or your family to have a paper trail to prove you residency, such as paying taxes, registering to vote and getting a driver’s license of that state.

    This is a drastic move to lower the cost of attendance, but it is a good option if your circumstances allows it.”

  13. TAFKAU Says:

    Dmitry–You raise a good point about the meaning of these rankings. Since a large part of the US News formula is based on the subjective assessments of provosts and presidents (solicited annually by US News), the rankings favor institutions with superstar faculty and, in the case of so-called “national” universities, doctoral programs that produce superstar faculty for other institutions. It is not at all clear that undergraduates actually benefit from better instruction in these schools, especially since their general education courses will be largely staffed by grad students and adjuncts, and many of the superstars are godawful teachers. It is true, however, that because these universities are more selective, their students will be surrounded by classmates with higher SAT/ACT scores and high school GPAs (I refuse to say “smarter”), so maybe that counts for something. (The University of California campuses, by the way, are very adept at attracting superstar faculty, probably because if you earn a high enough salary, California is a pretty great place to live. Who needs Madison or East Lansing when you can live in San Diego or Irvine or Santa Cruz? This would explain why the UCs dominate the US News lists.)

  14. Dmitry Says:

    @TAFKAU: Thanks for the perspective. If the additional fee for non-residents at public unis is prohibitive (and it appears to be at least $35K/year) wouldn’t public unis be dominated by residents of that state at least at the undergraduate level? No matter the test scores, that seems very limiting. I have read and heard that private US unis stress the chance to mix and live with students from all over the world as a key part of their offering.

    If the US News rankings are based on opinions of senior administrators, I am not inclined to place any faith in them.

  15. TAFKAU Says:

    Dmitry–out of state tuition might fall beyond the means of most students, but not all. A lot of upper-middle/lower-upper class kids want a college experience that includes big-time football, vigorous fraternity/sorority life, and endless drunken parties populated by attractive young people. A lot of Texas kids who can’t get into UT and A&M flock to schools like Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and LSU, all of which have sizable out of state student populations (in fact, I believe that the majority of undergrads at the University of Alabama did not grow up in the “Heart of Dixie.”) You see some of that in the big Midwestern flagships, as well.

  16. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Dmitry: Well, the US News rankings are in big trouble lately, with lots of schools boycotting them.

    My favorite score-gaming story comes from Clemson, 2009: At a conference of administrators, one person with knowledge of Clemson claimed that

    on surveys distributed by U.S. News, the Clemson brass “rates all programs other than Clemson below average.”

  17. Dmitry Says:

    @TAFKAU: Something tells me that those unis would not receive this blog’s seal of approval. 🙂

    @Margaret Soltan: I see. I thought there was an implicit endorsement there.

  18. Margaret Soltan Says:

    No endorsement: Just using it to get a quick and rough sense of things…

Comment on this Entry

Latest UD posts at IHE